The following research was conducted with Greg Allard who’s wife Carol Beck Allard, is a direct descendant of John Philip Beck.
In the Marion County and Indianapolis area in the mid-1800s, Christian Beck, Samuel Beck, Jacob Beck and William Beck worked as gunsmiths building flint lock rifles, percussion rifles, pistols, and shot guns. Their firearms are marked with their names stamped or signed into the barrels. The three Becks had gun shops listed in Indianapolis and they were listed in the Indianapolis City Directory from 1858 onward.
Their father was Christian Beck III; Christian Beck III, nephew of J.P. BECK, apprenticed to John Bonewitz in Womelsdorf, PA. He worked in the Womelsdorf area until about 1808 when he briefly relocated to Adamstown, Lancaster County, where his first son was born. He moved to Roxbury, Lurgan Township, Franklin County PA about 1810. Prior to his move to Franklin County his training with Bonewitz is evident in the characteristic style of his rifles.
While in Franklin County he had to transition his rifles from the Womelsdorf School into a style more similar to the Chambersburg School. The transition explains the Chambersburg style side plate on many of his rifles. The Womelsdorf and Chambersburg styles are merged quite well in his work. Christian Beck III moved out of Franklin County into Maryland around 1820.(Reference the article “Which Beck is it?” By Van Pitman KRA Volume 391, Number 1).
At the age of 74 he traveled with his family Westward. However, he did not stay to open a gun shop in Indianapolis like his sons. He eventually moved to Tioga, Illinois and then westward on the Oregon Trail where he met his end on July 15, 1863.
His son, Christian Beck the fourth was born in Pennsylvania, in 1813 and died in Marion County, Indiana on August 17, 1886. Christian Beck was the brother of Samuel Beck and Jacob Beck who also made rifles.
Christian was listed as a gunsmith in Connersville, Indiana and moved to Indianapolis in 1835. He was a gunmaker in Indianapolis for several years with the last year of record being 1880. His shop was located at 98 Fort Wayne Ave, Indianapolis. Christian made both flintlock rifles and percussion rifles.
Christian held 3 ranks during the Civil War. Here are his stats: Residence 392 N Alabama, Indianapolis; Enlisted on 9/25/1861 as a 1st Lieutenant. On 10/5/1861 he was commissioned into "L" Co. IN 2nd Cavalry He was discharged for promotion on 11/2/1863 On 11/2/1863 he was commissioned into Field & Staff IN 7th Cavalry He was discharged for promotion on 3/1/1864 On 4/30/1864 he was commissioned into Field & Staff IN 9th Cavalry He Resigned on 10/28/1864 Promotions: * Capt 6/21/1862 * Major 11/2/1863 (As of 7th IN Cav) * Lt Colonel 3/1/1864 (As of 9th IN Cav)
While serving as a Captain in the Civil War his outfit was surrounded by Confederates. Christian and his men cut their way out without losing a man. For this deed the Governor of Indiana, Oliver P. Morton, presented him with a gold-headed cane.
His barrels are signed, in script or pressed Roman Font on the top flat. He used a four-piece patch box with four piercings. The rifles he built are profusely relief carved on the cheek side of the butt, forward of the patch box and at the barrel tang. There is usually incised carving at the rear ramrod ferrule. Frequently adorned with Ketland & Co. locks.
Samuel Beck was borne in Pennsylvania in 1809. He built full and half stock rifles, pistols, flint locks, percussion rifles & shotguns in Indianapolis, Indiana from 1861-1885. He is listed as the owner of the Gun Manufacturing Company “Samuel Beck & Son” in Indianapolis. The business was located on 63 East Washington Street, Indianapolis. Many of their products were made from standard rough parts furnished to sub-contractor gunsmiths in the vicinity, for boring, stocking and finishing.
An advertisement for Samuel Beck’s Company pictured above states:
“Fire-Arms Of Every Description. S.B. has on hand Rifles, Guns, Pistols, &c. &c. of his own manufacture and imported, which he offers for sale at reasonable prices.”(Indiana State Sentinel, Samuel Beck Ad, Jan. 9, 1849.)
The book Gunmakers of Indiana, Lindert has a substantial write-up regarding Samuel Beck beginning on p. 91 with illustrations of his rifles & locks on pp. 92 & 93 with an additional write-up on p. 94.
Jacob Beck, was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania on November 30, 1820. He was taken to Maryland when about nine months old by his parents, and there raised. Jacob Beck was educated at Martinsburg, VA. common schools.
He began his career as a gunsmith, an occupation he has kept up through life. He was Commander in Chief of the Anti-Mormon forces of Hancock County, IL, in 1845-46. Jacob BECK enlisted for the Mexican war, or rather bought the place of another young man in a company that was already organized, paying the young man $27 for his position. It was Company A, First Illinois Volunteers, called the Quincy Riflemen, commanded by Col. John J. Hardin, James D. Morgan, Captain.
He participated in the battle of Buena Vista. Self and family are all members of the Lutheran Church. He was married at Indianapolis, IN., February 10, 1848, to Phebe Ringer, who was born in Frederick County, MD., March 5, 1821, and was the daughter of Jacob and Maria Magadalena (Darr) Ringer, he a native of Washington County, MD., and was born March 15, 1791 and died April 22, 1859; she also a native of Washington County, MD., was born February 22, 1790, and died in the year 1824. They have had four children born to them. Jacob BECK belonged to the Masonic order, and also the Knights Templars.
Jacob Beck’s Biography extracted from 1882 History of Bond and Montgomery Counties, Illinois, Part 2 Biographical Department, pages 95-96